So how can a traditional not for profit evolve to a model that improves their financial sustainability? Is it to become a hybrid social enterprise? And if so, what skills would they need to develop or import into their organization in order to be successful? Here is how:

1. Recognize the problem:
There is broad agreement that NPOs are facing a sea change in volunteerism and their funding models are under pressure. This is complicated by the rise of CSR among for profits entering the ‘social good’ space. To get in front of the issue, the NPO must first recognize that past practices may not garner success in the future.
Consider the case where an NPO is aware that they are at risk of losing funding (from govt/funders/sponsors) over the next few years, and need to develop a model that provides more revenue certainty to mitigate that risk

2. Ask some honest and hard questions:
Does the board have the temerity to do this? Does the ED? Only by asking hard questions will the board and ED be able to define the problem in real and quantifiable terms. These may be, for example – “do we have a vision and mission that still resonates with our constituents and stakeholders?” “How does it do that?” Show me the numbers. “Do we have the staff or volunteer skill sets to fulfill our mission?” Show me their key competencies. “How are they evolving?” Show me your strategic plan that allows the organization to survive if our biggest funder leaves us?

Next week I will continue this thread with some solution development ideas.